|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:12-17 A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may better run his spiritual race and course. Faith and patience enable believers to follow peace and holiness, as a man follows his calling constantly, diligently, and with pleasure. Peace with men, of all sects and parties, will be favourable to our pursuit of holiness. But peace and holiness go together; there can be not right peace without holiness. Where persons fail of having the true grace of God, corruption will prevail and break forth; beware lest any unmortified lust in the heart, which seems to be dead, should spring up, to trouble and disturb the whole body. Falling away from Christ is the fruit of preferring the delights of the flesh, to the blessing of God, and the heavenly inheritance, as Esau did. But sinners will not always have such mean thoughts of the Divine blessing and inheritance as they now have. It agrees with the profane man's disposition, to desire the blessing, yet to despise the means whereby the blessing is to be gained. But God will neither sever the means from the blessing, nor join the blessing with the satisfying of man's lusts. God's mercy and blessing were never sought carefully and not obtained.
Verse 12. - Wherefore lift up (for, straighten anew) the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees (rather, the relaxed hands and the loosened or enfeebled knees). The word παραλελυμένα is used only by St. Luke elsewhere in the New Testament, and with reference to persons paralyzed (Luke 5:18, 24; Acts 8:7; Acts 9:33). The form of the exhortation is taken from Isaiah 35:3, 'Ἰσχύσατε χεῖρες ἀνειμέναι καὶ γόνατα παραλελυμένα. The figure of the palaestra is thus again brought into view, with reference both to boxing and running.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
These words may be considered as spoken to the Hebrews, with respect to themselves; accordingly, the Syriac version reads, "your hands", and "your knees"; who were sluggish, and inactive in prayer, in hearing the word, in attendance on ordinances, in holding fast their profession, and in the performance of those things which adorn it; they were weary and fatigued with weights and burdens of sins and afflictions; and were faint, fearful, and timorous, through distrust of the promised good, because of their persecutions, being in present distress, and in a view of approaching danger, with which they might be surprised, as well as affected with their present afflictions: and then the exhortation to "lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees", is to be active in every duty; to be courageous against every enemy: to bear patiently every burden; to take heart, and be of good cheer under every afflictive providence: or else they may be considered as an exhortation to them with respect to others, which seems to be most agreeable to Isaiah 35:3 from whence they are taken; and then what is signified in them is done by sympathizing with persons in distress; by speaking comfortably to them, and by bearing their burdens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. He addresses them as runners in a race, and pugilists, and warriors [Chrysostom]. The "wherefore" is resumed from Heb 12:1.
lift up—In Isa 35:3, from which Paul here quotes, it is, "Strengthen ye the weak hands." The hand is the symbol of one's strength. Alford translates, "Put straight again the relaxed hands." English Version expresses the sense well.
feeble—literally, "paralyzed"; a word used only by Luke, Paul's companion, in the New Testament. The exhortation has three parts: the first relates to ourselves, Heb 12:12, 13; the second, to others, Heb 12:14, "peace with all men"; the third, to God, "holiness, without which," &c. The first is referred to in Heb 12:15, "test any man fail of the grace of God"; the second in the words, "lest any root of bitterness," &c.; the third in Heb 12:16, "Lest there be any fornicator or profane person," &c. This threefold relation often occurs in Paul's Epistles. Compare Note, see on Tit 2:12, "soberly, righteously, and godly." The Greek active verb, not the middle or reflexive, requires the sense to be, Lift up not only your own hands and knees, but also those of your brethren (compare Heb 12:15; Isa 35:4).
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